The following is a letter to the editor published Wednesday in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. LINK
Representatives should terminate ALEC memberships
Imagine a scenario in which members of the West Branch City Council and chief executive officers from P&G and Acciona got together to have a backroom meeting and put together resolutions and changes to our ordinances that would benefit their corporations. The council members would then be encouraged to go back and pass these measures.
Mind you, this would be a private meeting and the public would have no input or knowledge as to what transpired. Sound pretty scary? Fortunately, this is not happening in my hometown of West Branch, or if it is, I haven’t been invited.
But these types of meetings are happening at the state level. In 1973, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was formed. ALEC brings together state legislators and big business for the purpose of creating template legislation. And these meetings are closed to the public.
The thought of CEOs from Enron or Monsanto having a hand in writing our legislation is scary enough, but to have these meetings in private goes against the very core of democracy.
Per information obtained from Charles Smithson, chief clerk of the Iowa House, every member of the Republican delegation is a member of ALEC by virtue of not opting out of such membership. Membership dues are paid by the state, that is, by taxpayer money.
I have no desire to have my tax dollars used as a means for big business to gain privileged access to our state representatives. I would ask Jeff Kaufmann and other representatives to terminate their membership in ALEC and reimburse the taxpayers for the dues incurred during their time in office.
David Johnson Councilman,
Candidate, 73rd House seat